Monday, 6 August 2007

Jam hot!

Sorry - had to get it in somewhere. Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, more in the adventures of jam-land: I went blackberry picking on Hackney Marshes this weekend. Really I couldn't have hoped for better weather - especially as fruit is apparently all the better for being picked on a hot summer's day (as opposed to the many soggy ones we've enjoyed lately!) I have to say, I still find it absolutely astounding that supermarkets manage to charge as much as they do for blackberries when they're as plentiful as they are in our country, but there you go.

So, of course the natural thing was to turn it into jam! In the end I plumped for blackberry and apple, as I've heard that the centres of blackberries can go quite hard when cooked, so best to mix it with another fruit (although I didn't personally find this to be the case). This recipe comes courtesy of 'Good Housekeeping: Jams & Preserves'. Ordinarily I would steer well clear of anything with such a domesticated title, however in this case it had been recommended by a very good source as the one book to rely on!

Blackberry and apple jam
(makes about 10lb)

4 lb blackberries
1 lb 8 oz sour/cooking apples, prepared weight
1/2 pint water
6 lb sugar (I used Billington's golden granulated)

Pick over and wash the blackberries. Place in a pan with 1/4 pint of the water and simmer slowly until soft. Place the apples, peeled, cored and sliced into another pan with the remaining 1/4 pint of water and simmer slowly until soft; pulp with a spoon or potato masher.

Combine the apples and blackberries; add the sugar, stirring until dissolved over a low heat. Bring up to the boil and boil rapidly until setting point is reached, stirring frequently. Pot and cover in the usual way.

And so - onto the conclusion kids - how to approach this without sounding like a jam judge at the local fete? The jam was a great colour (woah, steady on there Betty) and smelled absolutely amazing! It tastes good, but... I guess ultimately I like my fruits a little sharper (raspberry, blackcurrant). Still definitely worthwhile, and it sets easier too as apples are high in pectin, so not a bad one for beginners to tackle.

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